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Driving Culture Transformation Through Performance Development

Beth Thornton

August 21, 2018

There is more than one way to create a culture that employees and clients crave. The office perks, extreme benefits and company outings come to mind first, but building a culture that lasts needs to be more than external.

Effective and lasting cultures come from within by building up employees and establishing a code of conduct where everyone wins - company and client. Developing employees through feedback, leadership training and overall performance development is the key to driving a true culture transformation.

Acknowledge problems and communicate the goal

Is there a culture issue where you work? Has the air in your office become tense? Can you describe your culture? Fewer than one in three executives (28%) report that they understand their organization’s culture. They know culture is important, but don’t understand it.

But, how do you measure your organization’s culture? By taking stock of the group behaviors in your office, one can start to observe the living culture to acknowledge what’s working and what isn’t. Speak with others in your organization. Your personal view of your culture could be completely different than your coworkers.

Acknowledge that and welcome varying opinions. When it comes to culture, every voice matters because every single employee has a hand in creating it. Measuring your culture is an important first step to take so you know where you are starting from so you can clearly see how far you need to go.

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“Determine what behaviors and beliefs you value as a company, and have everyone live true to them. These behaviors and beliefs should be so essential to your core, that you don’t even think of it as culture.”

– Brittany Forsyth, VP of Human Relations, Shopify

Once you have a good grasp of your culture and where you would like to take it, pan out how performance management can be used to get you there. Use teaching and training sessions for all employees to communicate the new expectations and the resultant change in values and goals. Communicate these goals in both large and small groups as well as one-on-one conversations or meetings.

Lead by example

More than 50% of executives agree that building a corporate culture drives outcomes like productivity and profitability. And 87% of organizations cite culture and engagement as one of their top challenges. Yet, only 50% of the organizations who responded see this problem as “very important.”

If employers adapt their performance development process the way they adapt their offices, benefits and employer branding, they will find it far more effective in accomplishing its intended purpose. It’s important to make it remarkably clear that your organization’s leaders are putting in the work to grow, too. Leaders would be breaking the mold by embodying the proposed new culture in their words, behaviors and actions. Only 26% of workers strongly agree that managers embody the values they expect from their employees. If they settle for anything less, others will likely perceive the communicated change in culture as hypocrisy and a lack of commitment.

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If you want to establish an environment that values learning and development, the leaders should be the perfect example of what the rest of the team should aim for. There is no shame in sharing triumphs and failures you’ve experienced. Describe certain times when you did not live up to the new guidelines. Tell an engaging story about when your professional growth was difficult, but you persevered. Admitting obstacles and explaining how you overcame them as a leader would be especially powerful.

Follow up and expect change

Remember the importance of cultivating a culture of professional growth and don’t let the excitement dwindle in the following weeks after it’s established. Businesses with a strong learning culture enjoy employee engagement and retention rates around 30-50% higher than those that don’t. Continue your process with relentless and ongoing follow-up, support and encouragement. Start every meeting discussing the progress towards the new culture and allow staff members to openly discuss how they feel about the process.

All in all, people want to improve themselves. If employees do not have a clear path to develop critical skills to grow their career, they are left stagnant and may consider opportunities to grow and develop elsewhere. By setting learning goals that are relevant to your roles and responsibilities, you’re building the capability of enhancing future performance and even expanding into new roles. Lastly, growing and developing individuals should be considered as a viable business investment rather than an office perk.

Inspire Software’s Collaboration feature encourages conversations between employees and managers to occur on a frequent, ongoing basis. The One-on-One feature includes leadership development guidance and a chat to track feedback for both managers and direct reports. Easily view goal progress, use embedded conversation starters for more effective coaching conversations, discuss key milestones and brainstorm solutions for roadblocks. Get a demo of Inspire Software today!